Protesting father vows to fight on


September 3, 2004 20:43

A FATHERS' rights campaigner who ran on to the Portman Road pitch dressed as Spiderman has today vowed he will continue his battle for justice despite being convicted by Ipswich magistrates.

David Chick, 37, of Burgess Hill, Sussex, shot to world-wide fame in November last year when his one-man protest atop a 120ft crane forced police to seal off the area around London's Tower Bridge for five days.

On May 15 this year, the day after being cleared of causing a public nuisance in the Tower Bridge incident, Chick ran on to the pitch during the first leg of the Ipswich Town v West Ham play-offs.

He was wearing his trademark Spiderman mask and a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogans "mothers who use our kids as pawns are sick" and "family law fails children and dads."

Appearing at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court yesterday, Chick was found guilty of entering a designated play area without lawful authority or excuse.

The court heard that Chick, who had been sitting in the Cobbold stand, walked on to the pitch during a break in play and was quickly removed by stewards.

Gareth Davies, prosecuting, said: "He did it in an entirely peaceful manner. There's no suggestion he attempted any form of violence.

"We accept he has legitimately held views. We accept he is sincere in his protestations. It's the manner of his protestations on this occasion that we object to."

The court heard Chick's protests began after he was stopped from seeing his four-year-old daughter. He chose the Spiderman mask because it is his daughter's favourite superhero.

He said: "I have been in the family court about 30 times in the last three years.

"I haven't seen my little girl for 18 months now."

He told the court he chose the football match for maximum publicity because he knew it was being screened live on Sky, but had not intended to disrupt the game.

Sentencing Chick to a 12 month conditional discharge, magistrate John Fielding said: "We accept he has a right to protest peacefully but Mr Chick walked right into the middle of the game.

"His face was completely covered by the mask. It would not immediately have been clear what his intentions were."

Chick's plight is similar to that of the Fathers 4 Justice campaigners, who rose to notoriety after throwing a purple flour bomb at Tony Blair, but he is not a member of the group.

Speaking after the trial he vowed to continue his protests: "I am going to appeal. It's a joke.

"I couldn't have done anything less disruptive."

He said it would not be the end of Spiderman: "He will be making a reappearance. I can't tell you where or when but I've got something big planned."

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